On 14 October 2011, 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was spending the evening enjoying dinner with his cousins at a restaurant in southern Yemen. An American citizen born in Denver, Colorado, Awlaki had spent the first seven years of his life in the United States and was described by his grandfather as a caring child with a mop of curly hair and a wide, goofy smile.
After dinner, Awlaki planned to travel back to his grandfather’s home. He never made it. During his meal, he was killed by a US drone strike, with his body “blown to pieces”, according to local residents.
A decade later, Washington has done little more than admit he was an unintended victim, advocates say. No compensation has been given to the family, no US official has been held accountable, and the government’s targeting killing programme has continued.
“Because of the secrecy and the lack of accountability that has surrounded the US drone programme for more than a decade, there has been no real attempt to grapple with the true impact of it on the communities targeted,” said Jennifer Gibson, a lawyer at the human rights organisation Reprieve.
“The legacy of the US drone programme is impunity for civilian deaths,” Gibson said. “For the hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent men, women and children killed in Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere, there has not only not been an apology – there has been absolutely no engagement from the US at all.
“Time and again, the US intelligence has been wrong and innocent people have been killed, including children. Yet nobody has ever been held accountable. So the killing continues.” Read the full story in Middle East Eye.